Ed's LANC Controller Projects

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Ed Chejlava (ed at chejlava com) created his own LANC controller grip for his TRV900, using a custom-programmed PIC microcontroller built into a joystick handpiece, along with some additional switches, wiring and circuitry as you see in the pictures above. In order to program the PIC, he compiled a list of LANC codes that work with the TRV900, through computer-assisted trial and error.  He has contributed the resulting PIC assembly code for the greater good of the community. There is also a schematic in PDF format and a User's Manual. Thanks Ed!

NOTE: I'm told that the PIC processor Ed used is no longer made. There is another LANC project from Viktor Carlquist using the PIC 16F84. This part (16F84 or newer 16F84A) is currently available as of Jan. 2004.

Ed-Grip LANC Controller
Ed Chejlava, Sun July 2, 2000

[...] I then searched a bit and found some references to a "Sony GP-TRX-1" apparently a discontinued Sony video camera grip that had start/stop, and I think zoom buttons on it. Wasn't able to find any for sale, so being a dedicated nerd, I built something equivalent..

Shopped at Fry's for a joystick with a nice grip shape and a flat spot on top to mount a ball head - then promptly removed the "joytick" part. Spent 2 or 3 months fussing with my PIC development stuff and scope and an old Sony 8mm camcoder (I wasn't _about_ to experiment on my new 900...) {{ many gory and frustrating details left out for your benfit}} Ended up with an 8-button grip that lets me zoom (fast & slow), focus, start/stop, get into the menus, toggle backlight (and a few things that I put in but don't remember off-hand). Also added a tripod socket on the base to allow me to use a light monopod (Slik Slim-pod) to add a little more stability up front.

Ended up with something that let me do most everything without moving my hands around - pretty stable, too (except when we went out on Zodiacs.... need to work on the gimbals next...). Even my wife (who was amazed at the amount of time & effort I put into the device and wasn't terribly pleased at the $$ the Sony cost) said that the results showed that the effort was well worth it.

At the moment, the information here is not a complete document describing the project, but this may serve as inspiration should you be interested in creating a controller of your own. A device of this type can control the basic functions on any camera with a LANC jack, which I believe includes virtually all Sony and Canon MiniDV and Hi8 cameras, although specific features (eg. menu controls) may vary. You could, for example, modify the program to create a time-lapse recording feature (already included on the TRV900, but not available in most other cameras). In any case you could create your own record intervals, or have the camera record based on a remote trigger, etc. There are already several LANC-based zoom controllers commercially available, but building your own enables you to customise the control knobs/actuators and responses to suit your own preference.

LANC Explorer and Zoomer
Ed Chejlava, Wed Nov. 29 2000

I've just finished up a couple of new LANC goodies - one that I had mentioned before and another at the request of a few folks from the 900 mailing list.

First is the "LANC Explorer".  I got a cheap 16x1 LCD and added a bunch of buttons to "productize" the code I used in developing the first controller.  Makes it easy to explore what codes any given device responds to. Well, at least any single command codes - there are a handful of controls on the 900 that I couldn't find any codes for and I did a semi exhaustive search. Would really like to be able to replicate the back-panel buttons -"shutter", "white balance", AE and "exposure"...   I did discover one that I had not found before - you can toggle LP/SP mode from LANC...???

Anyway, the explorer attached files go along with this project. Source code, schematic and a few pictures.

ASM source code   Schematic (PDF)     Explorer front   internal view   view #2

The other project was a request by a couple of mailing list friends - a more general purpose LANC controller.   Basically took all the pins available on a PIC 16C55 and used them to give 7 zoom tele speeds, 7 zoom wide speeds, focus near, focus far, start/stop and toggle backlight (well, there weren't any other really useful single button commands.)

The attached zoomer files are for this one.  You can see from the picture what development stage this one is in - still in the breadboard.  I'll probably adapt it a little more to use with an underwater housing for aquickly approaching trip to Australia....

Source (ASM)   Schematic (PDF)   Breadboard (JPG)

Long-distance note: Doug Byron from British Columbia, Canada reports that he was sucessful in controlling the TRV900 with the Sony RM-95 LANC control using a cable 125 feet long. (He used a low-capacitance cable. In general, the larger the physical separation between the conductors in the cable, the lower the capacitance will be. I'd advise against very thin cables in this application.)

Back to TRV900 page.